Horrible Bosses – ****ish

July 10th, 2011

The horrible bosses: Kevin Spacey just WONDERFUL in psycho mode. Colin Farrell completely coked-out and American. Jennifer Aniston actually funny (surprise!). Plus Jason Sudeikis, Charlie Day, and Jason Bateman all playing to their strengths and very well with one another, and a ridiculous premise that just gets more screwed up from their inexperience and buffoonery. Of course, having Jamie Foxx in there being hilarious helps, too. It’s dirty as hell, but it made me laugh out loud numerous times, and few movies have achieved that recently. Rating: COOL

Mr. Popper’s Penguins – ***ish

July 10th, 2011

Quick take:

If you though Liar Liar would be even better with more kids, a hotter ex-wife, and PENGUINS, you’ll like this movie. Jim Carrey’s not really stretching much from that “shitty dad realizes he’s missing his kid’s life and tries to change” formula here. But it is overall a fun movie, and the penguin scenes will keep the kids really happy. Since it’s about penguins, and it doesn’t really suck at all, it gets a rating of: COOL.

Cars 2 – ***ish

July 10th, 2011

A quick review: Visually stunning. Story not quite up to Pixar standards. Still, a fun movie and the kids will probably enjoy it – probably even more than the first Cars, simply because this one’s more like an action movie. And I think that’s the problem with this one…not enough depth. Maybe too much Mater, too. I enjoyed it, though, even if it is a solid last place in the Pixar catalogue. Last place there is so far ahead of many other studios’ average that I still rate this: COOL

Hall Pass – ***1/2

February 26th, 2011

So I decided to take a chance today and went to see the new Farrelly Brothers movie “Hall Pass”. I’m glad I did it, because I laughed my ass off. Well, not literally.

The movie tells the story of two guys very much like me – good husbands, one’s a good dad, both very loyal to their wives but very normal guys in that they check out other women. It gets to the point for the two main characters Rick (played with great sincerity by Owen Wilson) and Fred (played with joy by Jason Sudeikis) that their wives (played by Jenna Fischer and Christina Applegate) decide, at the suggestion of their psychiatrist friend Lucy, to give them a “hall pass” – a week off from marriage – and the “patheticness” ensues. The wives head out to Cape Cod with the kids, and the boys are left at home. They decide to get a hotel room, so it won’t be weird bringing all the chicks they’re going to bang home.

JB Smoove, Stephen Merchant, Danny Murphy and Larry Joe Campbell play their friends who are excited to watch the spectacle of these two bagging chicks – they’re looking for a chance to live vicariously through them, since their wives haven’t offered the same freedom. All four men are great foils for the main characters and you believe they’d genuinely hang out. They seem to really enjoy each others’ company – a nice touch. After three pathetic days of failure, they all quit on Rick and Fred. The story continues with slightly more success where Rick unexpectedly bonds with the super hot Australian girl who works at their favorite coffee place (played by Nicky Whelan). The guy who works there with her harbors quite the psycho crush, which plays itself out hilariously late in the movie. Richard Jenkins comes in later as their rich, single friend Coakley (the one that all their friends generally look up to for his ability to get women). He’s hilarious as the aging lothario…and earnest and encouraging to his friends who have been given quite the unique opportunity.

Like Jenkins, there are a bunch of people in the movie in smaller roles that you’ve seen elsewhere – character actors, some people who always pop up in the Farrelly brothers’ movies, and they all do a great job. Special mention must go to Alyssa Milano’s enormous fake boobs. Hey, it’s that kind of movie.

Since it’s the Farrelly brothers, you know it’s going to have its stupid moments and its gross moments, and they deliver. I won’t go into details – let’s just say they’re all pretty hilarious, no matter how gross or stupid.

A true return to form for the brothers Farrelly – I give this a “COOL”.

Updated and upgraded…

February 23rd, 2011

And commentary will commence on this blog soon. I promise.

Juno – *****

February 2nd, 2008

When will I find something to write about on here that sucks? Who knows. All I know is that the only thing I didn’t really like about this movie was the weird Kimya whatever-her-name-is music, but it somehow worked. “#1 album in the country” worked? No…but it worked.I didn’t really like the title sequence. I’m not a fan of cartoon-traced-footage, though. It smacks of preciousness.

Everything else about this movie was excellent, pushing these tiny little quibbles aside and making it deserving of five stars.

Ellen Page plays the titular character, and she does it with depth and consistency. You are reminded of how this is just a teenager, no matter how “worldly” she tries to be, and how much she tries to understand the adult relationships and situations she finds herself in.

Jennifer Garner is perfect as the “barren but destined to be a mother” Vanessa. I already had a huge crush on her from her work on Alias and in other films, but I have to say that she really captured the heart of this woman more than I expected.

Jason Bateman plays her “man-child” husband who doesn’t seem completely ready to be a father. I’m not going to go into it any more and spoil the movie, but he was great.

J.K. Simmons and Alison Janney play Juno’s dad and stepmom, and they’re both perfect as well – there are a lot of good parenting lessons to be learned from these two, however flawed they may be.

And of course, Michael Cera is simply wonderful as the dorky best friend who knocked Juno up. There’s just so much heart in that kid – he really knows how to be uncomfortable and still make you love him.

I honestly hope that it wins the Academy Award for best picture, simply because it’s a heartfelt, REAL, truly emotional and relatable story that doesn’t involve some weird foreign crap, fantasy bullshit, period piece, story of a retard, or other pretentious plot device like so many Best Picture nominees tend to.

It’s just an interesting, heartwrenching story about a little girl who gets pregnant, and to the anti-abortionists, makes the right choice in not having an abortion, and to pro-choicers, makes her own choice, which is the principle they most honor.

Five huge stars for this completely well-done movie. Kudos to Diablo Cody for her wonderful, very funny script, and Jason Reitman for his nuanced and beautiful directing.

Superbad – *****

August 18th, 2007

It would be hard for me to express how much I enjoyed this film.

But I’ll try, Sisyphus that I am.

First, the script was hilarious and real. I think that’s something we’ve come to expect from Seth Rogen and Judd Apatow (although credit really goes to Evan Goldberg as well). There’s something very special about the movies these men make together – as nasty as they are, they find a way to touch you.

Jonah Hill was vulnerable and funny as the hapless and vulgar Seth. I was surprised at how well he really captured the vibe of the nasty (as in gross) friend who never does anything about it – I like to call them “know-it-all, done-it-nevers”. His best friend in the whole world is the thoughtful and sweet (but equally vulgar when the situation demands it) Evan, played with nuance and skill by Michael Cera. These two have been friends since they could barely walk, and they find themselves living on the fringes of high school society. They find themselves responsible for procuring the alcohol for this shindig, and hilarity ensues. I’d rather not go too far into the plot details, because I’m just not that sort of reviewer, and I find that stuff fluff anyway.

Moving on, Seth Rogen (with awesome fu manchu porno mustache and sans Jewfro (for once)) and Bill Hader play two inept cops bent on acting more sophomoric than the teenagers. They’re both great, well-cast and allowed to showcase their comedic strengths.

Special mention must go to first-timer Christopher Mintz-Plasse. Found in an open casting call, he is dazzlingly dorky as Fogell (or as most know him by now, “McLovin”).

This movie was paced well, funny for just about all of its length, and in my opinion, establishes Judd Apatow as the John Landis of his generation – cranking out funny movie after funny movie, with no slip in quality (though some might call “Talladega Nights” a slip – I found it hilarious for what it was).

It wouldn’t shock me if this movie ends up in that select group of movies that every teenager must watch as a rite of passage.

Truly great in just about every way, so long as you can handle non-stop vulgarity (and I LOVE it) “Superbad” gets five very phallic stars from me.

Rating: COOL

Radio Star at Merkaba Lounge ****

July 18th, 2007

I can’t give them a full five because I only saw about seven songs, but they were so consistently good, with and without backing tracks, that I must give them props here.

Here is a list of the songs they played while I was there:
The Power of Love (Huey Lewis & The News)
Be Good Johnny (Men At Work)
Pour Some Sugar On Me (Def Leppard)
Somebody’s Watching Me (Rockwell)
Don’t Mean Nothing (Richard Marx)
Your Love (The Outfield)

I’m forgetting one…well, regardless, every song was executed almost perfectly.

Singer Billy Lucas nailed everything, though he cheated (like almost everyone does) on the Outfield tune. The original is absurdly high. They played it a whole step down. He was charismatic, but also kind of stood there, mostly because most of the crowd wasn’t even paying attention to the band (shame on them). His guitar playing was tight, too, holding it all down.

My personal favorite was his brother David – great bass player, awesome tone (with his Music Man/Aguilar rig, that’s no shock), and great presence on stage, with his bald head and Tony Levin-esque vibe.

Their lead guitarist, Scott Clark, is a monster – adding almost a jazz vibe to solos on certain tunes, but always playing something that complemented the song harmonically (even if it sounded a little bizarre compared to the original tune at times). I loved the way he approached his solos, though, and his rhythm playing was stellar – he and Billy are just “toit” (as Goldmember might say).

Drummer Greg Seale held it all together with tight, focused playing, and hilarious (to me) fills, sometimes playing over the bar to the point where you go, “What the FUCK?!” Then he comes back. I think that’s more entertainment for musos, though.

I liked their Adidas track suits (the uniform of the band) – very Beastie Boys/Run-DMC – and I thought they put it together well.

The only gripe I had about what I saw was the PA – I thought the sound was pretty bad. You could hear everything, but there was this sort of upper-midrange honk to everything that just sounded to me like crappy speakers or incompetent soundman.

My guess it was more the speakers than the sound guy.

Overall, a great show, and they made it fun even when no one gave a crap, so kudos to you fellas – If I get some free time in the evening (when I’m not playing with my own band), I’ll be checking you out again!

Check them out at Their MySpace

Rating: COOL.

Ratatouille – *****

June 17th, 2007

Holy crap. I expected nothing, and got a great movie that had very few flaws.

The animation – spectacular. The water sequence was as incredible an animated water sequence as I’ve ever seen.

The voice acting – perfection. Casting Patton Oswalt as the intellectual rat Remy was simply genius, and he delivered.

The score – Michael Giacchino does it again – his score for “The Incredibles” was PERFECTION, and this matched it.

The story – the one area where Pixar generally makes every other digital animation company look like hacks…and they don’t disappoint. This movie was full of heart and thoroughly enjoyable from beginning to end.

In fact, the only flaw I see is that it’s not much of a kid movie, and its title is hard to pronounce and doesn’t really tell you much about the movie (though it makes sense when you watch the movie). The fact that it’s been marketed as a kid movie will make it a harder sell to some critics who can’t accept good stories if they’re directed to a family audience.

“Ratatouille” was better than almost every movie I’ve seen this year in just about every way.

I absolutely loved it. Brad Bird does it again – “The Incredibles” was a great movie, and this one matches it, in my opinion.

Even with my 3-year-old son making it a lot less fun to watch, the movie was great.

Special kudos to the team who did the short that ran before the movie, called “Lifted” – it was hilarious.

Thanks for making my evening, Pixar. You’ve done it again.

Vive le “Ratatouille”!

Knocked Up – *****

June 3rd, 2007

Believe the hype.

It IS that good. It is crass and touching at the same time.

Perhaps I’m a little biased, having knocked someone up and lived the dream of it working out, but Judd Apatow has managed to make a movie that is as good as the other movie he made, which was EXCELLENT. The 40-Year-Old Virgin was awesome in that it somehow managed to be disgusting and touching at the same time. This movie is no different. I LOVED it.

In my ideal world, this would be the blockbuster movie of the summer. Fuck Spider-man, The Fantastic Four, or any of those popcorn monstrosities. This movie was funny, touching, and completely entertaining in every way.

I highly recommend it.

***** (that’s five stars, not some censored curse word)